Guest Commentary – The Dot Com Choice

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Dot Com Choice

In the age of the Internet, the rapid rise of Sarah Palin defies logic or reason to a large extent. Isn’t the Internet supposed to make things more transparent? I mean you just can’t make stuff up right? After all everyone has a blog, right? Or does it just muddy the waters even more with a million different opinions flying around and really does not matter what anyone says because it gets lost? Right now, what the Palin pick has done is clearly left the impression the Obama campaign is stumped because this goes against the grain and what has gotten them to this point.

But I like to paint this in different terms. Until Palin proves she can hold her own in an unscripted interview or shows that she can do something other than deliver the same stump speech over and over again, I view the Palin selection at this moment very much like an inflated dot com stock that either crashes and burns or turns into eBay (where Palin apparently likes to tell us she sold her state owned plane). But there really is no middle ground when it comes to a dot com stock, it’s either a good idea or a bad one, with the launch party always the best part. Didn’t the GOP look like they were having a blast at the convention during the Palin speech?

Now the reason I see this crashing and burning is for the basic reason that Johnny Midnight continually points out. The trends are in the Democrats favor based on economic conditions and failed foreign policy. The Obama campaign just needs to hold its course. However I think it will take a “back to basics” in terms of what got him here and a little luck. The luck factor being that Palin makes that mistake which negates her impact with the middle.

While the GOP is banking on firing up its base with the Palin pick, the Obama campaign did something unprecedented in the primaries. It turned out young voters in droves. The community organizer that was mocked at the GOP convention learned how to turn out the vote in ways never seen. This is a block of voters always ignored because they just don’t usually vote. But this brings me back to the impact of the Internet and the fact the great divide is not rural America vs. Urban elites – the election is more of a generational thing. This is what Karl Rove and Clinton style politics have failed to realize.

The Internet’s ultimate impact is not about getting information out. What “Web 2.0” has shown us is that its about the ability to build communities and mobilize. That is the very heart of politics. The GOP does it by firing up the Christian right. The Democrats will need to do it through the Internet to fire up Obama's younger leaning base. Just look at the fact Obama has over 1.7 million Facebook supporters to McCain’s 313K. Not scientific, but it does provide insight into who is supporting which candidate. Or look at the difference in the amount of money raised by both parties online. Obama has built a war chest compared to the McCain campaign. And while the media wants to paint a dramatic sky is falling scenario because of “Palin Power”, the signs still point to a Democratic victory. They just have to be smart about it — like they say they are.

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